Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches scores against Poland

Golden Boy Renato Sanches and other young stars of sport

Renato Sanches was born on 18 August 1997. At 18, he’d already won the Primeira Liga and Taca da Liga with Benfica, was a standout performer in Portugal’s first ever major trophy victory and won a €35 million transfer to Bayern Munich. Good lord. At that age, we were still figuring out what the hell to do with our lives. Today, Sanches has been announced as the recipient of 2016’s Golden Boy award, handed to the most promising young footballer in Europe. Having beaten Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman, it’s safe to say he’s got the world at his feet. Here are a few other superstars in the making.

Dele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer

Spurs midfielder Dele Alli might have only come fourth in the Golden Boy list, but FourFourTwo labelled him the absolute best wonderkid in the world earlier this month. Opinions, eh? With 10 goals and nine assists in his debut Premier League campaign, he outperformed many of the competition’s best players (including some old enough to be his dad). Still just 20 years of age, he’s now one of the first names on the England team sheet. Not bad for a guy who looks like Spyro the Dragon.

Maro Itoje – Saracens and England rugby player

Maro Itoje didn’t take naturally to rugby union, describing himself as the “lanky kid in the corner… always offside, running around like a headless chicken.” Nowadays, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is he built like a fridge-freezer, but the 21 year old could well be England’s most promising young talent. His strength and powerful running formed a vital part of Eddie Jones’s team’s Grand Slam triumph; opposition players bounced off him like ping pong balls off a charging rhino. No wonder he’s already being talked up as a future captain of both club and country.

Alexander Zverev – tennis player

He might not be taking part in this year’s ATP World Tour Finals, but it’s hard not to imagine that Sascha Zverev (who knew Sascha was short for Alexander?) will be in the running for the 2017 tournament if he keeps up his current progress. Earlier this month, the 19 year old became the youngest player to enter the top 20 since Novak Djokovic a decade ago. The way Zverev patiently constructs points brings to mind a man meticulously laying out every piece of flatpack furniture before commencing assembly. Before you know it, you’re staring at a beautifully built Billy bookcase. Or (to finally put this absolutely disgusting analogy to bed) a trophy – Zverev claimed his first senior tour title in 2016.

Image courtesy of Chensiyuan on Flickr